An extremely modest proposal


I’ve got a suggestion for the Democratic Party as to how to solve the problem of Michigan and Florida. The situation is that the two states broke the rules of the party in scheduling their primaries early, and all the candidates agreed not to campaign in either state. Most of them even had their names taken off of the ballot in Michigan. When Hillary Clinton didn’t bother to go that far, she made it out to be not such a big deal.

Now, of course, that the race is so close and every delegate counts, the dilemma is: How do you seat the delegates from these two states without abandoning the principled stand taken earlier by the DNC? There are objections on practical grounds to a “do-over” and there is some merit to the idea that the votes already taken should count. There is also some merit, however, to the argument that they shouldn’t carry the day, because that would reward the state parties for breaking the rules. What to do? Here’s my humble suggestion:

Seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan at the convention. Count their votes; but let the value of each of those votes be worth half a vote.

This way their voice would be heard, but they wouldn’t, likely, be decisive. No one would be completely satisfied; and in a democracy, that’s a sign that the system is working well.

Edit: here’s a news report from a few days later:

Meanwhile, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, a Clinton supporter, raised the possibility of seating his state’s delegates based on the January vote — which Mrs. Clinton won 50 percent to 33 percent — but awarding each Florida delegate only half a vote at the August convention. That would mean that Mrs. Clinton would narrow the delegate gap with Mr. Obama by a net of 19 delegates, rather than the 38 she would have gained under the January result. She trails Mr. Obama by more than 100 delegates, according to most counts.

Mr. Nelson discussed the plan with Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton on Thursday on the Senate floor. A Nelson aide said they told him they wanted the Florida problem resolved but did not endorse his half-a-vote plan.

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